Wanted: A Crazy Man Here, A Crazy Man There!

(By Roberts Belema)

A mad man may only appear so to others because they cannot see what he can or are unable to communicate at his level, but if they could suddenly see what he does see and were to become able to understand what he does say, he just might be hailed as a man with extraordinary foresight! A person needs a little madness, I believe, or else he may never dare to cut the rope that binds him and be free. I fervently wish that more Nigerians would discover the vast, untapped depths of the positive power of their inherent madness; too much of the negative side of it is currently far too evident in our nation, with devastating consequences. 

LET’S face it, Nigeria is a country in distress. We have been this way for a long time and we seem set to continue to toe the same path for a while still. There is evidence of our failure as a nation everywhere around us; utter and complete madness seems to have become the norm. Madness has become ubiquitous in Nigeria, in fact, we actively cultivate a culture of madness in our society – our leaders do it, and so do the rest of the citizenry. In Nigeria today, it is normal to have a mind that does not function after the normal fashion; madness is our ‘thing’ but unfortunately for us, our current, particular manifestation of it has incapacitated us so woefully that it seems as if our only hope of redemption is based on a benevolent God having mercy on us, as evidenced by the popularity of the vernacular refrain, ‘na only God go help Nigeria!’

  Compared with other people from different parts of the world, it must be said, Nigerians are not ‘normal’ people by virtue of the fact that we have become renowned for doing the most uncommon of things, for performing the most extraordinary of feats, for advancing the weirdest and craziest of ideas, and yes, for somehow managing to survive and stay happy in the saddest and most depressing of circumstances. Bafflement, amazement, astonishment, and befuddlement; these are only some of the words that may define the reactions of the rest of the ‘normal’ world to us as a people. So, here’s a thought: Why not parlay our inherent ‘madness’ into a positive manifestation of success and progress for both ours and our nation’s benefit? Having a mind that does not think or function in the same conventional manner as other people’s minds does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, in fact, according to Aristotle, there is no great genius without a mixture of madness, and this mad writer is inclined to agree. A mad man may only appear so to others because they cannot see what he can or are unable to communicate at his level, but if they could suddenly see what he does see and were to become able to understand what he does say, he just might be hailed as a man with extraordinary foresight! A person needs a little madness, I believe, or else he may never dare to cut the rope that binds him and be free. I fervently wish that more Nigerians would discover the vast, untapped depths of the positive power of their inherent madness; too much of the negative side of it is currently far too evident in our nation, with devastating consequences.

  The current unemployment and underemployment statistics in Nigeria are terribly depressing. Year after year, increasing masses of qualified graduates continue to languish in extreme hardship and frustration, growing disillusioned and bitter and blaming the government for their woes. I am not about to state here that they are wrong to do so – no, not at all! Blaming our imperfect government is the normal, conventional, rational thing to do. But in the midst of the prevalent rationality, one mad Nigerian man took stock of the situation and decided that one day soon, he would proudly bear the responsibility of employing one million Nigerians – that’s about 30,000 people in each state of the Federation – and right now, he’s running six thriving, vibrant, growing and profitable businesses in Nigeria and responsible for signing the pay checks of an increasing number of employees, and certainly well on his way to achieving his mad dream. So this mad man saw a desperate situation, decided to solve it, tied it to his dream and is now currently successfully turning around a desperate situation while the rest of the rational and normal people continue to be dejected and rail at their government.

  This mad man’s name is George Agbonlahor, and he is just 29 years old, in the same age range of most of the rest of the rational people.

  So, you see, the capacity for the positive manifestation of a different kind of madness comes naturally to us as Nigerians if only we are able to provoke this madness into evidence in ourselves. And if the current state of the country and our projected, continuous downhill slide is not enough to provoke us as a people to break out of the conventional, dejected and fatalistic acceptance of a dismal present, and to embrace a different kind of madness, then we may as well just give up now; let the world end and we with it!

  Suppose another mad man like George decided to create a unique and incredibly innovative and affordable power supply solution that would enable consumers to effectively, and if I may add, happily reduce their dependence on the nation’s utility provider and also greatly reduce their expenses on the purchase of electricity generators and petrochemical fuel? I was pained by the general derisive reactions of a lot of Nigerians when the news broke a few months ago that some Nigerian teenagers had invented a urine-powered electricity generator. History is full of accounts of impossible feats becoming possible only because one ‘mad’ man decided to challenge the status quo! If some mad people came up with such a power supply solution as described in the foregoing, let’s see if the powers that be will not suddenly find themselves under immense pressure to fix up the country’s moribund power sector or risk it becoming obsolete and useless to the citizens!

  Suppose, as mad Nigerians, as mad youths, we decided to collectively identify, support and then go out and vote en masse, come 2015, for credible individuals with demonstrated integrity, and also to jealously guard our votes at the polling stations to ensure that we are not disenfranchised? Let’s see if the quality of our leadership will not change.

  Suppose our music artistes decided to plumb their reservoirs of positive unconventionality and actually begin to release music videos that can pass for something other than pornographic? Let’s see if a lot of impressionable, young Nigerians will not begin to have adjusted views and impressions about what success entails.

  I believe I have made my point. Nigerians are a naturally unconventional people and we can make it work positively for us. If we are ever to move forward as a nation, away from our present distressing position, a different kind of madness is desperately needed to be evinced by as many of us as possible.

  This is my challenge to the readers, especially to all young Nigerians: dare to think positively and break out from the fatalistic acceptance of stagnancy, unending hardship, and retrogression that has laid siege to our minds! We are continually apprised of accounts of young men and women outside Nigeria who accomplish extraordinary – yes, mad – things, and who also gain extraordinary influence and go on to make massive impact in their endeavours. Why then should our own ‘madness’ manifest itself in such an egregious fashion as is prevalent in our country today?

  Like our parents have taught us to say and still always ask us, ‘do they have two heads?’

• Belema is an electrical/electronics engineer, in Mowe, Ogun State.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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